NBA: 5 Questionable Decisions Made Recently by the Cavaliers' Front Office
The Cleveland Cavaliers' front office has been mired by questionable decision-making in recent years that has left fans scratching their heads.
Aside from apparent big hits in Tristan Thompson and especially Kyrie Irving in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Cavs have had a rough go at it at the top of the organization even during the LeBron James era.
Recovery from LeBron's gut-punch departure hasn't been easy, but is definitely trending upward thanks to last year's draft—the first legitimate one for GM Chris Grant and company.
LeBron's "Decision" was one of the most bizarre sports TV endeavors in history. It was devastating to Cleveland.
However, it likely wasn't the fans LeBron wasn't pleased with. Perhaps the reasoning that led LeBron to leave was prior decisions by the Cavs' front office.
As the 2012 draft approaches and with 20/20 hindsight, here are five decisions that the front office can learn from to keep the franchise trending in a positive direction.
5. Drafting Christian Eyenga
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Eyenga was selected at No. 30 overall in the 2009 draft. This pick doesn't seem like a disaster, and a top-heavy draft already took much of the talent.
As I just mentioned, hindsight is 20/20, but this pick was a head-scratcher.
His NBADraft.net scouting report leading up to the draft wasn't exactly promising.
Eyenga was raw then, and hasn't become very polished as a basketball player in the three years since.
A basketball player who doesn't have a great jump shot, still hasn't filled out his frame and relies on athleticism for any contribution he makes on the court isn't worth a first-round pick.
Among the players the Cavs missed out on at No. 30: DeJuan Blair, Marcus Thornton and Chase Budinger.
Each player in that trio plays a position of significant need for the Cavs, and all were much more polished prospects than Eyenga.
The best thing Eyenga did for the Cavs was serve as a trade piece along with Ramon Sessions to acquire this year's 24th draft pick from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Maybe greener pastures await Eyenga in the City of Angels, but my goodness, what a bad fit he was in Cleveland.
4. Trading J.J. Hickson
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Another raw prospect drafted by the Danny Ferry Administration was Hickson.
With only one year of college experience under his belt and little offensive polish, Hickson was destined to be another draft disaster for the Ferry regime.
Then, something incredible happened.
Hickson performed well enough to qualify as arguably the only defensible draft pick during Ferry's time as general manager.
What was ironic is that the call to trade Hickson was made by the current Cavs front office. In one of the current regime's few gaffes, Hickson was shipped to the Sacramento Kings for Omri Casspi.
Apparently there was a 2012 first round draft pick kicked in there for the Cavs, but with this year's lottery pick (No. 4) and No. 24 from the Lakers, it's unclear what happened to that one.
A crowded Kings frontcourt allowed Hickson little playing time on the dismal Kings. Casspi played similarly awful for the Cavs.
After being acquired off waivers by the Portland Trail Blazers, Hickson went on a tear.
The highlight of Hickson's late-season hot streak with Portland came on the road against the L.A. Clippers.
Playing against the formidable frontline of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, Hickson put up 29 points and 13 rebounds.
These monster numbers were posted without the benefit of playing alongside superstar LaMarcus Aldridge. He even posterized Jordan with this unbelievable slam dunk.
With Hickson being a free agent this summer, teams should be chomping at the bit for his services.
Let's just say no one will be knocking down the Cavs' doors to acquire Casspi after this past season.
3. The Antawn Jamison Situation
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In another strange—perhaps desperate—move by Danny Ferry, he decided to acquire Jamison at the trade deadline in 2010 in a blockbuster trade.
The addition of Jamison was meant to help LeBron James win his first NBA championship.
Jamison was 33 and suffering from his worst shooting season at the time of his career. He had only gotten past the first round of the playoffs once.
It's difficult to reason why he was the clear choice to help LeBron get over the hump, but fans were excited at the time of the trade simply because action was taken.
That action was desperate action, though, and the Cavs absorbed Jamison's lucrative four-year, $50 million contract.
One positive Jamison has provided is serving as a valuable mentor to what is now a rebuilding Cavs team.
Unfortunately, he has also eaten up valuable cap space with his contract that could have been reserved for acquiring more valuable assets than the current roster sports.
Obviously, it was impossible to anticipate whether LeBron was going to stay in Cleveland or not, but the Jamison trade put him in yet another losing situation.
This wasn't the plan for the star player who wasted away his prime on numerous losing teams.
The aforementioned contract has expired, and although the Cavs are a team on the uptick, don't expect Jamison to return.
He would be required to take far less money to play for what will likely be a fringe playoff contender at best in the 2012-13.
2. Letting Danny Green Walk
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The same 2009 draft in which the Danny Ferry regime selected the drawn-out disappointment of Christian Eyenga in the first round, Green was grabbed in the second round at No. 46.
In yet another depressing sequence of events for the Cleveland sports fan, the talented UNC product rode the pine with the Cavs in his rookie season.
After Ferry's contract was not renewed following the 2010 season, the new front office regime waived Green.
The prior experience Ferry had in the San Antonio Spurs front office landed him a job as the team's Vice President of Basketball Operations that August.
Green was waived in October 2010, and Ferry picked him up that November. After seeing his minutes double, he showed enough to get another shot with the Spurs in 2011-12.
Did he ever make the most of it.
Seeing an even bigger increase in minutes due to Manu Ginobili missing time to injuries, Green started 38 games this past season for San Antonio.
The Spurs tied the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the league (50-16).
A player who the Cavs never gave a chance became a serviceable starting 2-guard on arguably the best team in the NBA for most of this season.
...The curse of Cleveland sports continues?
1. Firing Mike Brown
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I remember hearing a comment on a television broadcast that took me aback about former Cavs head coach Mike Brown.
San Antonio Spurs legendary coach Gregg Popovich allegedly said that he learned as much from Brown about basketball as he taught him when he was an assistant on Popovich's staff from 2000-2003.
Unfortunately I can't find this anywhere on the Internet, so you're free to not believe me as you please.
If this story is indeed true, and I'm not just imaging that this happened, it's probably the most ringing coach-to-coach endorsement I've ever heard.
It's startling because of the status of Popovich compared to the status of Brown.
From 2008-09, Brown led the Cavs to an league-best 66-16 record. He won the NBA Coach of the Year Award.
Sure, it helps to have LeBron James, but defense was the biggest key to Brown's success.
The Cavs consistently ranked in the top 10 in every major defensive category during Brown's tenure.
Yes, I also remember the times Brown would draw up a play in a timeout against Boston in the postseason. Those attempts would often result in a shot-clock violation.
What can't be emphasized enough is that Brown is a defensive genius, and that is the key to success in the NBA today.
Of course, LeBron has the versatility to guard all five positions on the floor, and was pivotal in what the Cavs did on that end of the floor.
Brown took heat when it kept inexplicably falling short. He is again taking heat for all the effort issues in Los Angeles with the Lakers, particularly with the talented, enigmatic Andrew Bynum.
The Cavs decided to let him go. Actually, owner Dan Gilbert decided to let him go.
Byron Scott was brought in, and while he has had success as an NBA coach with multiple franchises, he didn't possess the consistent winning that Brown did.
The bottom line: Scott's winning percentage is .458; Brown's is .658.
With LeBron and the second best player on the team in Daniel Gibson coming off the bench, Brown guided the Cavs to the NBA Finals in just his second season as head coach.
Let's just say the decision to fire Brown isn't the only one that is making Gilbert look silly from the 2010 offseason.